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This translation of the Book of Shmu'el (or Samuel, as it is more commonly known in English) has two purposes. One is to demonstrate how the Hebrew of Tanakh is best translated--that is to say, into a vigorous and dynamic English that recreates for the English speaking-reader an equivalent experience to that of the reader of the original Hebrew. For most of the authors of Tanakh, Hebrew was a living language--the language of their everyday speech. A faithful translation into English, then, should bring over the Hebrew into the English that is spoken and written by English speakers of today. The second purpose of this translation is to bring to life the stories of Samuel, Saul, and David (or, as I refer to them in my translation, Shmu'el, Sha'ul, and Dawid) so that their literary merit may more easily be appreciated by those who don't read ancient Hebrew. These stories are among the outstanding examples of literature from the ancient world, and are worthy of being read and appreciated on their own as literature, regardless of whether one views them as scripture.
This translation is unique in a number of ways. First, it is the only English translation that respects the role of the ancient literary divisions--the parashot petuhot and parashot setumot. Removing the medieval chapter divisions as I have done and displaying the text according to the ancient literary divisions greatly enhances the narrative flow and reveals numerous dramatic effects that are invisible in translations which are organized according to the medieval chapter divisions. Second, this translation prioritizes "dynamic equivalence" far more than other English translations. As a result, it is superior to other English translations in capturing the energy and vibrancy of the prose in Shmu'el. Uniquely among ancient Hebrew prose, the principal author of Shmu'el strove to represent the spoken Hebrew of his day. Nearly all the dialogue is written in a colloquial style full of idiomatic language; a faithful translation must reflect this with colloquial and idiomatic English. Lastly, the translation is illustrated with representations from the Megiddo Ivories dating to the 13th century BCE. The use of ancient art to illustrate the text allows the modern reader to get closer to how the original audience might have imagined the action in the text as they were reading or hearing it for the first time.
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